Meet ASAP Scholars - 2014 Applications due February 15

January 23, 2014
L-R: Rafter Ferguson, Dane Hunter, Ron Revord

Meet some of the Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture Program’s Scholars.  ASAP scholars receive support to study critical issues in agriculture, food systems and their interactions with the environment and society.

Ron Revord is a second year M.S. student working on breeding methods to develop a Midwestern hazelnut crop. Ron’s focus on hazelnuts grew out of his concern for agriculture and the environment and his recognition of societies’ need for increased and diversified staple food-crop production systems that can improve rather than degrade the environment.

Dane Hunter (center) is a first year M.S. student and an Illinois native who grew up on a family farm in southern Illinois.  Dane continues to work on the farm with his dad where they raise corn, soybeans, wheat and a few head of livestock. His research was developed in response to the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP), which calls for increased use of locally produced food as a way to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and enhance the community by providing local jobs. 

Rafter Ferguson (far left) is a third year PhD student who came to the Crop Sciences Department at University of Illinois in 2010, after receiving an M.S. in Agroecology from the University of Vermont. Prior to graduate study, he spent a decade as an activist in the global justice movement, as participant, organizer, and scholar.

ASAP Scholars Program

The Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture Program (ASAP) seeks to enhance the quality of agricultural and environmental education at the University of Illinois through support graduate students studying critical issues in agriculture, food systems and their interactions with the environment and society.  The intent of this program is to recruit and support exceptional graduate students interested in topics of great societal import (eg: climate change, food security, environmental degradation, biodiversity, land stewardship, resource conservation and social equity).  Priority support will be given to topics that have obvious societal benefit that do not have well established sources of funding. Research must be interdisciplinary and address the needs of producers, resource managers or consumers.  In addition, proposals must include outreach to undergraduate students at the University of Illinois.  Special consideration will be given to projects developed with input from partner organizations.

The ASAP Scholars program is housed within the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences but is open to students working across campus.  The program consists of a 2 year commitment of a 25% 11 month research assistantship (RA) and tuition and fee waiver.  Students must identify and consult with prospective faculty advisers before developing a proposal. Co-advising arrangements are highly encouraged.  Partnering entities are being asked to provide a summary of the problem they would like to be addressed, a description of the physical, human and organization resources they could provide, and a commitment to match the level of ASAP support provided to the student in order to bring the student RA to a full time (50%) appointment.

Students should submit materials to by Feb 30, 2014.  Proposals should include a: 1) Title, 2) Problem statement explaining how the work will address an existing need or gap in knowledge, 3) Description of project participants.   The proposal should not exceed 3 pages.  In addition, applicants should provide copies of transcripts, a resume, and three letters of support including letters from advisors and project partners.  Students must apply to, and be admitted into, the home department of one of their major advisors to receive this award.

More info on the ASAP website:

Contact Michelle Wander for more information at


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